News / Ottawa

Ottawa adds security, increases fines after bridge vandalism

Just hours after the city installed a chain-link fence to keep people off the Prince of Wales Bridge, it was busted open.

Security guards survey the damage done to the fence put up by the city at the Prince of Wales bridge.

Evelyn Harford / Metro Order this photo

Security guards survey the damage done to the fence put up by the city at the Prince of Wales bridge.

Just hours after the city installed a chain-link fence to keep people off the Prince of Wales Bridge, it was busted open.

Now, Kitchissippi ward Coun. Jeff Leiper, who said he’s disappointed by the recent vandalism, is pleading with people to keep off the bridge so the city doesn’t have to spend more money to install a more extensive barrier.

The city spent $46,000 to put up the chain-link fence on Tuesday after Transport Canada told the city to “permanently close” the bridge last year, citing safety concerns.

Leiper said the chain-link fence was a sensible and cheaper solution to the problem. But he said there’s a limit to the city’s patience when it comes to vandalism on the bridge.

Every repair and every break-in will cost money and put people's safety at risk, said Leiper.

The cost to fix the gate after the break-in is minimal, but if the city has to continually send staff to make repairs the city may have to go back to its original plan – a $250,000 impassable barrier, said Leiper.

Mayor Jim Watson, who was visibly frustrated by the vandalism on Wednesday, said people need to, “start following the law, respect the fact that (the bridge is) a safety hazard and stop wasting taxpayers dollars by going out there and breaking public property.”

Leiper admits that if someone wanted to get on the bridge they could, even with the chain-link fence, but said the signage and the fence is “sufficiently clear” that people shouldn’t go onto the bridge.

And if the fence keeps being left in a state of disrepair, the city could have an obligation to enhance the barrier, he said.

Until such time, Watson said, security will be amped up around the bridge and trespassers should expect fines and charges.